Search the site


The cave named "La Grotta del Gelo", literally translates as "The Ice Cave", is undoubtedly the most famous on Etna. It is a cave of lavic origin situated on the northern slope of the volcano, at an altitude of about 2100 metres. The main characteristic of this cave is that it is the only one on Etna where you can find ice all year round. For this reason, it is regarded as the most southern glacier in Europe. The best period to go visit it is surely in late Spring, because that's when the outer snow melts and allows access to the cave. Once inside, you can admire the marvellous ice-sculptures, and since the floor of the cave is totally covered in ice, it is advisable that you use hooks.
The starting point of the trail is at the refuges Ragabo or Brunek. This is situated on Mareneve street, which is pretty close to Linguaglossa. From Catania you should take the highway A18, then take the exit "Fiumefreddo di Sicilia" and go towards Linguaglossa.
In front of the refuge there is a narrow street that can be passed through by car. It leads to the beginning of the track Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: the beginning of the track. If you are tireless travellers, you can leave the car at the refugew and walk 2 more km in the pine tree wood. The beginning of the track goes through the 2002 lava flows Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: the 2002 lava flows, that have destroyed part of the pine wood Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: have destroyed part of the pine wood leaving on the ground clear proof of the force of Etna Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: clear proof of the force of Etna. Here, as in other places on Etna, the view is dominated by the contrast Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: the view is dominated by the contrastbetween the ability of nature to destroy but also to recreate Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: nature to destroy but also to recreate.
We go through a part of the pine wood Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: We go through a part of the pine wood, before we encounter a pic-nic area close to Monte Rossello Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: a pic-nic area close to Monte Rossello. Along the path, we see one of the craters of the 1911 eruption Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: we see one of the craters of the 1911 eruption.

At about halfway up the track we get to the crossroads to the Grotta delle Palombe, literally "the cave of the wood pigeons" Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: crossroads to the Grotta delle Palombe, literally the cave of wood pigeons, where you can also find a small resting area and a small altar Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: and a small altar. We don't have enough time to visit this cave, so we decide to keep on walking in the woods, where we encounter the sign to the Grotta delle Femmine, literally "the cave of the women" Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: Grotta delle Femmine, literally the cave of women. Unfortunately we also have to skip this cave and keep on going. Once out of the woods, we walk through the last part of the track until we reach a division in the path, here it branches into 3 sections Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: we reach a division in the path, here it branches into 3 sections: on the left you go towards the refuge Timpa Rossa, on the right towards the Monte Spagnolo. To reach "The Ice Cave", we have to leave the beaten track we are on Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: we have to leave the beaten track we are on and climb up the lava flows following the small towers made of rocks Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: following the small towers made of rocks.

After a few metres we encounter a sign for the Grotta dei Lamponi, literally "the raspberry cave" (the name is due to the fact that there are a few raspberry bushes at the entrance of the cave). It's a classic cave of lavic origin Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: It's a classic cave of lavic origin, that formed when the outer walls of the lava flows cooled down. It is beautiful, with a few holes on the roof that allow the entrance of the sunlight. You can download the file "GrottaDelGelo.zip" in the download area. We get out of the cave and we keep on climbing toward The Ice Cave following the small towers made of rocks Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: following the small towers made of rocks, but also the arrows painted on the rocks and the sticks in the ground.
The flow we are walking through is unique on Etna, for the fluidity of the lava is similar to Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: fluidity of the lava is similar to that which is characteristic of Hawaiian volcanoes. We wonder what this lonely tree Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: this lonely tree is doing into the middle of this lavic desert and we continue our walk accompanied by the first signs of snow Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: our walk accompanied by the first signs of snow. We walk for another few metres which are more challenging to go through because of the snow Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: which are more challenging to go through because of the snow and we encounter the famous "Monte dei Morti", literally "the mount of the dead" Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: monte dei morti literally the mount of dead, that takes its name from the original lavic structures that form it. We are now pretty close to The Ice Cave. Just before we reach it we encounter the Grotta di Aci (Aci's cave) Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: encounter the Grotta di Aci (Aci's cave), which can't be explored without speleological equipment.
A few hundred metres more and then FINALLY HERE IT IS!!!!! Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: FINALLY HERE IT IS!!!!! After more than 10 km and almost 500 metres of difference in level, we meet the entrance to the cave!!! The amount of snow in front of the entrance makes it difficult to go down, but with the help of the guys from the CAI (Alpine Italian Club) we manage to enter, and what we see is simply outstanding! Ice stalactites are hanging from the roof, and the rocks, as well as the floor below are completely covered in ice, an indescribable atmosphere! Grotta del Gelo, Mount Etna: Ice stalactites are hanging from the roof, and the rocks, as well as the floor below are completely covered in ice, an indescribable atmosphere! You can also download more pictures: file "GrottaDelGelo.zip". We exit the cave, have lunch and then we go back, exhausted but happy for the experience. We returned to the car 9 hours after we had left.


A special thank you to the guys from Catania CAI (Italian Alpine Club) that we have met along the way, for the help the have provided during the entrance to the cave. Thanks also to Alessio and Giusy that have allowed us to put into practice and to document this excursion.



5 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 5.00 (6 Votes)